Fighting for What We Believe In. Together.
This conference began as a simple idea: just like many of our attendees, I was a student stuck at home, bored with quarantine, emptied of motivation to do my online assignments, missing my friends. I attended a few regional Model UN meetings online, and it made me realize that not only am I learning through virtual platforms, students all over the world are. When the world’s education shifts to online, then suddenly former barriers for a conference like this begin to disappear. The expenses, the travel, the logistics once necessary for an international event? Gone. So this got me thinking: why not plan a virtual Model UN conference open to delegates from anywhere in the world? After weeks of outreach, research, and organization, the first YISMUN conference was held in June of 2020, with around 150 delegates from 20+ countries.
While there was no shortage of small online Model United Nations conferences, YISMUN has been unique from the beginning. I began by replacing all registration fees with an optional donation to a non-profit-- in addition to increasing accessibility for all students, this generated support for organizations from COVID-19 DirectRelief to UNICEF’s Aid for Yemen programme. I set my sights on making the conference as diverse and international as possible, first by scheduling the conference with global time zones in mind, then reaching out to as many countries and Model UN societies as possible. Thanks to the Model UN team from the University of Lagos, our attendance tripled from the first conference to the second, allowing YISMUN to reach a wider audience than ever before.
In August, YISMUN was recognized by the United Nations. Emboldened by this success, I (along with our incredible team of student directors) continued leading conferences, creating new student leadership positions to empower others. YISMUN has recently added weekly workshops to engage students in meaningful discussions on key global issues with an international cohort. Currently, we have just finished our Fall Conference on November 1st, which received over 500 registrations reaching over 70 different countries, and generated 90+ donations to Save the Children fund to provide access to healthcare and education threatened by the global pandemic.
Thanks to weeks of commitment and organization for each conference, perspectives were changed, new friendships were made, and YISMUN was suddenly more impactful than I ever dreamed. It’s truly rewarding to see the hard work of the secretariat and the executive board turn an idea into a reality.
We at YISMUN believe that Model UN is critical in today's world, because it focuses on the power of diplomacy, listening to one another, and addressing problems with resolution in mind. If we recognize the power in actively listening to others and validating their life experiences, it can go a long way. Climate change could be slowed if lawmakers, diplomats, and corporate executives acknowledge climate science and activism over the profits of business status quo. The heated tensions over racism may be cooled if those who find themselves privileged acknowledge the history and the humanity of those who are oppressed. Open-minded communication can unite diverse groups of people to brighten our future, just as we have done here at YISMUN. Model UN is so much more than a school club; it encourages political discourse open to all points of view. Imagine what the world would be if we carry this mindset through our universities and careers and future successes-- let us continue to debate, to dissent, to openly listen, human rights and global cooperation is no longer a hope, but a reality.
Founder and Secretary General of YISMUN